For many years Mississippi has produced more than its share of celebrities in the fields of writing, music, and other areas of the arts and entertainment. In this same way, Yazoo also has contributed tremendously to the positive image of the state.
One person many people associate with Yazoo is Willie Morris, the internationally-known magazine editor and author. From infancy, Willie was raised in Yazoo City. A Rhodes Scholar, he went to New York in the late 1960’s to seek his fortune, and distinguished himself there at an early age by becoming the youngest editor in the history of Harper’s Magazine, a world-renowned literary journal. He later went on to become a best-selling author of several downhome type books, including My Dog Skip, which was made into a great, three-handkerchief movie.
Another well-known national celebrity from Yazoo City was Jerry Clower, who was, for a number of years, the top salesperson for Mississippi Chemical Corporation. Jerry’s natural comedic talents built him a reputation as a great story teller of the antics of imaginary Yazoo and other Mississippi personalities. He eventually became a star of the highly-popular Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Jerry, who died in 1998, is still fondly remembered in Yazoo for his genuine Southern charm and great sense of humor.
Many other Yazooans have achieved national recognition: Stella Stevens, a Hollywood movie star; Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker and author; Haley Barbour, a former chairman of the National Republican Party; Mike Espy, former Mississippi Congressman and United States Secretary of Agriculture; and Willie Brown, former pro football player for the Oakland Raiders. John Sharp Williams, elected to the U.S. Senate in 1908, was known nationally for his wit, wisdom, eloquence and integrity.
Colonel John George Quekemeyer, another native son, distinguished himself during World War I and is best remembered as a military aide-de-camp to General John J. Pershing. He served with other notables such as George C. Marshall, Fox Conner and George Patton. It is commonly believed that Colonel Quekemeyer would have played a stellar role during World War II had he not met an untimely death in 1926 as he was preparing to begin his service as Commandant of Cadets at West Point, the first Southerner named to that post since Robert E. Lee.
Owen Cooper, one of the founders of Mississippi Chemical Corporation, was an outstanding industrialist as well as a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention. All of the above outstanding Yazooans have left their mark in one way or another on the fabric that constitutes the character and history of Yazoo.
Yazoo – Y’all Come!